A hit-and-run crash Thursday night on Interstate 75 in a new construction zone that has been the source of multiple crashes and backups this week led to the death of 20-year-old Emily Ryan of Franklin, according to Moraine police.
The incident took place around 12:15 a.m. just north of the Dryden Road exit ramp in the southbound lanes, near the ongoing I-75 construction project.
Ryan’s vehicle apparently had broken down in a construction zone and was in the right lane, said Sgt. Andy Parish.
Ryan, who was outside of the vehicle, was hit by a white pickup truck, and was pronounced dead at the scene, Parish said.
The truck reportedly continued south on the highway before getting off at the Dryden Road exit.
Moraine police received multiple 911 calls about the crash, including one from a construction worker in the work zone.
Witnesses and surveillance footage helped investigators identify the suspect vehicle as a newer white, full-size pickup truck. It has amber cab lights on the roof and damage to the front passenger side and headlight.
It was last seen heading north on Dryden Road from the highway.
Parish said he has a hard time believing the truck driver didn’t know they were involved in some type of a crash.
“You’re going to have some indication that you’ve struck something,” he said. “Whether you’ve struck a vehicle, a person, an animal, something. You’ve struck something.”
Parish encouraged the driver to call police.
“We want this person to turn themselves in,” he said. “We’re not saying that this person is going to be arrested on the spot. We want to know their side of the story. This is a construction zone. We have a vehicle that was apparently stopped in a lane of travel and this truck was just traveling perhaps.”
Anyone with information should call investigators at 937-535-1166.
Parish noted said Ryan’s vehicle had broken down in the right lane, and there was not a shoulder or safety zone for them to get the vehicle off the road due to the construction.
He added is someone’s vehicle breaks down in a similar situation where it may be unsafe for the motorist to get that drivers should call for help.
“If you’re not in a safe area you’re best bet is to stay in that vehicle, contact an emergency number — whether that’s roadside assistance or police — and ask for an emergency response to at least provide you with some sort of barrier or buffer so that you can then determine what’s wrong with your vehicle before getting out into traffic.
Because it’s a construction zone with traffic changes, Parish asked motorists to slow down in that area. He added the speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph.
The southbound lanes of I-75 were closed for multiple hours as investigators processed the scene.
Construction in the area is part of a second phase of work that will include total reconstruction of 2.7 miles of highway from Exit 47 in West Carrollton to just north of Exit 50A at Dryden Road.
I-75 will experience major impacts in the months to come, including traffic pattern shifts, ramp closures and lane restrictions in each direction, the Ohio Department of Transportation previously said.
Mandi Dillon, spokeswoman for ODOT District 7 and District 8, told Dayton Daily News that work zones often include narrow lanes, shifting lanes, and other changes that require a driver to be extra alert and attentive.
“We know that two of the top factors in work zone crashes in Ohio are speed and following too closely,” Dillon said. “It is imperative that drivers obey the speed limit and other signs in work zones and allow extra distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Things can change quickly in work zones and you need that extra time and distance to react.”
For the work zone for this particular project, the emergency shoulders have been repurposed into travel lanes, she said.
“While this allows us to maintain as many lanes as possible through the work zone, it also means that when a vehicle breaks down, runs out of gas or is involved in a crash it can quickly lead to a traffic backup,” Dillon said. “Again, we need drivers to be extra alert to the conditions and road ahead in this work zone. We want everyone to stay safe.”